Adjusted Reality

“Reality can be beaten with enough imagination.” – Mark Twain

Category: Uncategorized Page 2 of 189

Snowpocalypse 2021

We were just minding our own business here in Texas, enjoying our typical mild winter, when Alaska’s weather decided to meander down here all drunkenly for an early Spring break. We were not amused.

It was chilly, but not yet ridiculous, so we spent the weekend doing some usual Valentine’s Day stuff like playing games and steak and lobster on the grill. Normally, there would be a movie outing or a fun bike adventure. This year with Covid, not so much on the movie. This year with the weather, not so much with the bike adventure. So we snuggled up for the duration, and were warned that we may experience some rolling blackouts on Monday for a few hours max.

Imagine our surprise when we lost power at 3am on Monday morning and didn’t have it back when we woke up to a legitimate winter wonderland. The power continued to be conspicuously absent through the day. Our food went into coolers and bags in the snow. The gas fireplace earned it’s keep heating the living room. Since it was a long weekend, and the snow was new and novel, we tromped around the neighborhood and I annoyed Joel by stopping to take pictures every two minutes but… it’s not like we get this every year!

Later, he cooked up a bunch of chicken on the grill and I still made ravioli with italian sausage, caesar salad, and garlic bread as planned for second Valentine’s Day (thank you, gas stove, and thank you Joel for insisting we get a gas stove!). At dusk, we went on another walk to get cool pictures of lights in the snow and check out the ghost town of barely anyone out and about at 7pm on a Monday.

When it got dark, it got REALLY DARK in the house without even the normal visual hum of the power lights all the electronics in house. It was just us, the fireplace, and a lantern or headlamp to find our way around outside of the glow of the living room. In contrast, the thick coating of white snow made it super BRIGHT outside, almost as if night never really fell.

Tuesday should have been a workday, but we still found ourselves without power, and so did the office. A few things were running on the backup generator but the situation wasn’t conducive to any sort of productivity, so we set out to officially close the “office”. Once that was settled, we got gas for the Xterra and then spent three hours sitting in it, enjoying the heat, and using every capacity it possessed to turn said gasoline into charged electronics.

What do you do in the dark? Read. A lot. I powered through most of a 3 book series whilst we lived in the pioneer times because there wasn’t much else to do. Joel said he missed sounds and music so I broke out my acoustic guitar throughout the week to serenade him. I also started leaning a new song from the book I got for my birthday last year and summarily ignored because looking up whatever I fancy on the intertubes had been easier. I need to practice but I think I have Free Fallin’ in the bag.

Wednesday, we went through the same song and dance. Officially closed the office. Schleped ourselves out to the Xterra, ready for another three hour tour to charge up the electronics… and then an hour into the process, we saw our garage lights come on! We had power! Rejoice! I didn’t trust it would stick around, since we’d heard about other people getting it back for short stint and then losing it again, so we plugged in every device that needed charging and kept waiting for the blackout… and it never came!

Thursday, I woke up to the ceiling fan still twirling. Even so, we were being asked to conserve power and act as if we didn’t have it as much as possible. So, besides doing one round of dishes on economy mode (they’d been in there since Sunday and were… ripe), and one small load of absolutely needed wash (hung by the fireplace to dry), we did just that. I grabbed a few things off my work machine and then worked offline on my teeny laptop all day. We kept the heat off and lights off and kept almost everything in the house unplugged. Thankfully, we didn’t have to charge things in the car but otherwise it was the same ol’ same ol’.

We were asked to conserve water as well and all of Austin and surrounding areas were handed a boil notice. I had spent the last few days not washing my hair because it was cold. Now, I had to not wash my hair because the water was gross. In the grand scheme of things, it wasn’t a major hardship, I just felt… yucky. I was very thankful that we splurged and did dishes and laundry in the small window while we could.

Friday was more of the same, but work finally had power and brought up all of our systems so we could actually work, so it was the first “unofficial” workday of the week. That is, if people had power, internet, and could do so without any hardship. Most of our folks, thankfully, were in situations where they could and most agreed that was nice to be back at it, and for life to feel a bit more normal again.

On Friday morning, it had been below freezing for over 120 hours. On Saturday, we went for a walk in t-shirts and shorts in the sunny, 70 degree weather. Oh Texas winter, you so crazy. Finally, Monday at 2:30pm the city finally lifted the boil notice and I immediately left my desk and took the most welcome and wondrous shower ever.

Our personal fallout was minor and fleeting. No burst pipes, we didn’t lose much food, no major issues. All that happened was that life was weird for a week and the house was a disaster area for about a week and a half. I’m very happy to be back to (pandemic) normal and live in slightly less interesting times.

However, this one still thinks she’s a garage kitty and wants in all the time, no matter the temperature. We don’t mind too much. 🙂

Virtually motivated

Last year, I poo poo’d virtual races. Doing a “race” without the community, without a finish line, without a competition and a podium, this seemed silly to me. My drawers are overflowing with race shirts and medals, I didn’t need any more. Frankly, I was a bit burnt out with racing and training – trying to maintain Ironman level training during a very packed year professionally and personally – and I had ZERO desire to race if it wasn’t… a race.

I took a breath, and let go of being an athlete, while also mourning that IM Texas wasn’t going to be a thing. My “long day” workout (1 hour swim, 5 hour bike, and 2 hour run) the week before the world shut down was the closest I would come to being a two-time Ironman. When the race cancellation was announced, it was a bit of relief but I also felt a bit of sadness. I was barely holding on, but I was closing in on the end of the last big block of training and the start of taper. Could I have gotten to the finish line? I believe so. But, I never got the chance to find out.

So, I gave myself the rest of March and April to just slack. And then all of a sudden it was June. Once we had our pool set up, we did a little sprint tri, which was fun, but then… I just lost interest in doing anything difficult, since life was kinda difficult already. I swam… a few times. I biked more than anything since it was easy to hop on the trainer. I stopped running when it got warm and then by the time it was cooler my back/core was in shambles because I also stopped stretching and doing strength. I walked a lot and took a lot of pictures. I wasn’t a complete couch potato but it just wasn’t… me.

And then all of a sudden it was New Years Day, and I ran 1 mile. And it was HARD, y’all.

January’s goal was to run or bike every day, stretch every day, and do strength 3x week. I missed four days total, but I’ll still call that a win, considering my garmin connect log for the last 6 months. I worked my way up to 30 minute bikes and 2 mile runs. I maintained my stretching and core strength routine. My back still bothers me, but it’s been hurting a little less each week. I feel increasingly less like a sack of potatoes when I go out for my short little jogs. Progress is happening at the speed of molasses on a winter day, but happening it is.

Joel happened on Ironman VR races two weeks ago, and decided to sign up. I hesitated. 1 mile run, 20k bike, 5k run? That’s wayyyyy beyond me in one session right now, but I had 4 days. I was able to get it done in 3. We bought the damn shirt and medal because you know what? It’s been a year. A full year since I toed a start line. I don’t see it happening anytime soon. I guess I actually do kinda miss the race schwag even if I can’t have the rest of the experience.

The first and last Casa de Jank 2020 Tri and the only time I wore my new Austin Triathlon Club kit. Hopefully it will get some wear in 2021.

This weekend, they doubled the distance. I crunched the numbers. A 2 mile run, 25 mile bike, and 6.2 mile run is a LOT for me right now, but I thought I could break it up and have a chance. The plan was the 2 mile run and a little bit of biking Thursday, a big push on the bike Friday, the rest of the bike and 2 miles of running on Saturday, and 4.2 miles of run/walk Sunday. I missed starting the bike Thursday because I had about 8 hours of meetings and was just… spent after work, so I had to do more cycling on Friday than planned (I did half at lunch and half after work to get in 16 miles total). Yesterday’s brick ride (9 miles) and run (2 miles) really familiar and nice. Today’s 4.2 mile run/walk was a lot, but I have this really nice soreness in my legs that I haven’t felt for a while and my back seems to be stiff, but holding up alright.

I would NEVER have done this much without virtual racing. I guess I need the motivation, so I’m going to keep doing them. Next weekend’s race is back to the sprint distance. I think I’m going to try to do most of it at once. Can I actually swing 20k on the bike and 3 miles of running or run/walking at one time? I’ll give it a try on Saturday and leave Sunday to finish some run miles if I need.

I need virtual racing right now. I need something that provides reasons for me to get my ass out and do sporty things. I’m a shade of who I was a year ago. It’s going to be a long road to rebuild what I had. Qualifying for Nationals again? Completing my second Ironman? I’m not there, not even close. But I’m now on the path, and since I’ve walked it before, I know where it leads.

Adventures in waiting and not waiting

First rule of adjusted reality blog is I don’t really talk about work, but sometimes things are worth recording for posterity.

New Years Day Sunset foreshadowed some FIRE this year…

As I alluded to last post, there were some BIG THINGS at work. They happened, or better stated, they are happening. Two weeks ago, I looked at two castles to storm this year, both of which I was equally excited to approach, both with force fields around them, guarded by powerful wizards. Right now, one of these castles shimmers faintly in the distance and has all but faded from view, and the other has a giant moat blocking my way and I’m waiting for the drawbridge to finish lowering.

Adventures, amirite?

I’m in the best timeline where, even with the occasional grumbles, I was incredibly happy and challenged and fulfilled with the status quo, and the new path is a fantastic opportunity for myself and the project. I keep getting introduced to these warm, personable human beings I’m going to work with and feel very lucky. These type of things are not often win/win and it feels that way right now, so I’d like to capture this moment and feeling in time.

That did not mean that the last two weeks have been a breeze. I spent most of last weekend working. Monday, Joel had to fetch me tea and soup and cough drops because I could barely leave my desk during the workday and I was talking so much in meetings he noticed my voice was hoarse. I don’t do limbo well, and right now, there’s some inevitable waiting involved while the final things finalize. But, this too shall pass. I’ll just have to summon some patience and just wait for things to fall into place. I hate waiting, but it’s definitely something for which it is worth waiting.

This minor life diversion wrecked my momentum with all the things I talked about here, but it was only for 3 days. Last weekend, we ordered deli sandwiches and later pizza. There was champagne. I didn’t bike or run, I didn’t stretch, and I didn’t meditate. And then, Tuesday, I woke up feeling ABSOLUTELY EFFING AWFUL.

I may be a shadow of what I once was on the bike but we out there.

So, as much as it was difficult to do so, I started again. Each morning since I’ve meditated (except this morning, oops, I was too motivated to write, I’ll go do it next, I promise). Every day since I’ve tracked my calories, and they’ve stayed more or less in line with my goals. I’ve weighed, and while I won’t get excited until I see some more weekly averages, I think it’s going the right way. It’s allegerific AF outside right now, but I’ve been on the bike 22-25 mins per day, resumed strength training, and stretched. Post-March 2020 me would have used this as an excuse for weeks or month. 2021 me ain’t having it. My meatbag is worth more than that.

So, here I am. Nothing terribly profound to say. My back still hurts but it hurts less when I do the good things I should. If I wore jeans anymore, I’d not yet fit in the skinny ones, I’m sure, but it seems to be trending that way. I’m a long way from Ironman, but I’m not quite Couchman anymore. I’m in the middle of many, many things, chipping away at incremental progress. It’s not sexy, there are no medals or achievements or accolades of which to speak, but it’s certainly better than waiting. 2020 me was waiting for something. 2021 me isn’t willing to wait anymore.

Establishing Habits (for now this is enough)

So, here we are. Week 1 down of being a reasonable hoo-man, and honestly it was pretty great.

I’ve got a new routine, one that I quite like. My alarm goes off at 8am, I snooze it once while my brain wakes up, and then I do this 10 minute meditation thing I came up with. Half the time, I start the process with crazy brain work or life thoughts, but by the end, my mind is calm, clear, and awake. Then I go over what I’d like to accomplish, setting my intentions for the day. If I’m nervous or excited about something, I acknowledge the butterflies in my stomach, and give them a pep talk. This week I’ve woken up feeling more relaxed and energized than I have in months. Maybe years.

Each day at lunch I’ve made time to either bike 20 minutes or run 1 mile. I’m keeping the feelings of “wow, this is pathetic” at bay and being grateful that my back is holding up so I can actually do some daily activity. I’m also prioritizing 10-15 mins of stretching and rolling each day, and some very light strength 3x week.

I mean… very light.

  • 3×10 knee pushups
  • 3×20 crunches
  • 3×20 side crunches
  • 3×10 supermans
  • 3×10 sec boat pose
  • 3×10 single leg calf raises

If you look back at my history, this is nothing. Laughable. Why even bother? But for now, it is enough.

I’ve been tracking my calories, trying to stay around 1500 per day. For the level of activity I’m doing, I can certainly safely go lower, but I don’t want to drive myself crazy. This should reasonably be a 3500-ish calorie deficit for the week, taking off 1 lb. One nice thing about being SO far gone for SO long? I’m about 5 lbs down already. It’s all water/inflammation weight certainly, but it was nice to see the OMG number go away pretty quickly. My plan is about 1/3 Snap Kitchen meal delivery, 1/3 batch cooked healthy meals, and 1/3 making shit up like this greek chicken meal we threw together today. Homemade hummus is best hummus.

I’ve also been trying to chill on the pressure to DO ALL THE HOBBIES. Between all manner of games, writing, photography/editing, reading, painting, and guitar, there’s always more I want to be doing with my spare time. This weekend, I’ve been meaning to paint and crack back open a video game I started Friday and also another I started last week and haven’t even touched my guitar but I also spent all day yesterday reading two books in a really fun RPG lit series snuggled under my blanket next to a roaring fire and then spent today playing outside in the once-every-10-years snow Austin gets. It is okay sometimes not to be productive with my spare time and just relax.

There are some interesting things brewing professionally right now for me as well, but they are all in “wait and see” mode. I’m eager to see which of two (both favorable and exciting) paths will lay out for me in 2021. In the meantime, I’m appreciative of the fresh start on this year’s to do list. For the first time in forever, I didn’t start a work week behind the eight ball. I was adequately prepared for every meeting I had, and there was this moment where I was working my way down my to do list for the day and I found myself doing something 45 minutes ahead of schedule. I finished my work for the week on Friday without anything hanging over my head.

I realize it’s not always going to be this way, but it nice to have a moment in time where things were really and truly under control.

For the next week, for the rest of January, really, I plan to just continue to keep all these nascent habits going. I’d like to add a little bit to the bike and run each week, but ONLY if it’s good for me to do so. I’m not who I was, I’m not who I want to be yet, but I see a path there now, and that is enough.

Lost for Words

Uh, hello, is this thing on? *taps mic*

This… writing stuff… it feels weird in my fingers, my brain, my soul, but it’s time to dust off this little corner of the internet and say things again. Writing is how I unravel my brain, it’s my therapy, it’s how I process and analyze and learn from my successes and failures. I took a bit of a break from it for various reasons, and that’s just not working out for me, so here I go again.

At first I stopped writing here because I dove headfirst into writing some fiction, which stretched some really fun new brain muscles. I hadn’t written in anyone else’s voice in a while and it was fun to hide in that other character for a while – his sins, his motivations, his perspective on life definitely bisects my own on ye olde personaltity venn diagram in some aspects, but it’s also fun to delve into the “not me” parts and be someone else for a while. As I always enjoy digging around in my grey matter, in some cases, I found ways to use the “not me” parts in “me” useful ways as well.

Then, I stopped writing because the world fell away. The first week in March, I completed Long Day #2, a 8 hour training day in preparation for my second Ironman 7 weeks later. The second week in March, life as we know it got cancelled for an indefinite amount of time. Many of the plates I worked so hard to keep spinning over the years came crashing down, and I just let them fall on the floor and stay there. It was surreal, it was excruciating, and bit by bit, as every plan I had for 2020 got scratched off the calendar, I felt a bit of my soul die until I just didn’t care anymore. I just learned to work around the shards on the floor. My life has been, and frankly still is just this existence in this four bedroom “space station”, with infrequent “space walks” every few weeks to take care of something I can’t online. I communicate and exact my influence on the world through this portal in my office. At some point, I figure, someone would let me know when I should return to earth and be normal again and that hasn’t happened yet.

Since it’s been *ahem* a few months since I’ve last recorded the history of my life here, it’s worth dedicating a bit of space to the oddity that contributed to the black hole for my words. 2020 was just a blur without specific events like vacations and races and the normal societal pleasures and obligations. Time lost meaning. I can only really describe the period of time as these overlapping ages and eras. Since “July” really didn’t mean much in the grand scheme of things, I didn’t grab onto it as a descriptor of that month, but instead, I do remember the “pool” era.

In the first era, this whole new stay-at-home life was novel and exciting. We walked a lot and took pictures of the pretty flowers. Later, when this life became less than novel, with no end to the ambiguity in sight, thus began the era where work tested me to the point where I really thought I might mentally break, but I survived instead and learned things. I may have made it through because that overlapped with the age where we got a pool, and that age had two strata – the first where it was utterly awesome, and also another where it was mostly frustrating, and a ton of work to maintain.

Sometime around the eleven hundred and sixty-first of March, we gave up the idea of taking any non-camping vacations and instead sunk our vacation budget into a SUPER nice new pop up. Like the pool, it has saved our sanity as we’ve camped 21 days since mid-July. Though, also like the pool, it has been a pain at time, especially for someone like me who is not a giant. I can’t reach anything without climbing around like a monkey. It’s much heavier and harder to deal with setup, takedown, and storage. However, these camping trips gave me a date to associate with a thing, which was few and far between this year. We went camping on September 10-20th in Colorado. I could not tell you what I did any other specific day that month. These trips were a nice anchor to reality.

The later 2020 ages are ridiculously muddy in my brain, even though they are the most recent. I put myself through power point bootcamp to learn how to create within the confines of that tool. I grumbled the whole way through it, but creating animated demos is now a really awesome weapon in my professional arsenal. Around this era, my back REALLY started to act up, some days making it difficult to do heroic and impressive things like get out of bed, and pick up a sock. This happened just in time for the weather to be beautiful for outdoor activities, which was just a lovely middle finger in my direction. My motivation was back, but my body had already noped out of anything athletic, so we took lots of spooky walks and Christmas light walks instead.

Throughout these ages of 2020, there have been some constants. I played a ton of guitar. I became obsessed with Bloodbowl and our work league. These two hobbies alone may have kept me on the right side of the looney line. I found throughout the year that it became increasingly difficult to focus, this in and of itself may be worth an entire post, but guitar was a bit of meditation and monofocus for me that I wasn’t getting elsewhere. Bloodbowl scratched some of the itch I was missing with triathlon – the competition and camaraderie – and gave me something to be (arguably, depending on the day and the dice) good at when a lot of the rest of my life was just falling apart.

I played and even ran some tabletop games and played a hell of a lot more video games than I normally do. I picked up a phone that has a better camera than my CAMERA, so I’ve been toting that thing around everywhere. I think sometimes I see the world more clearly in photography shots, and I enjoy the power of editing the photo to actually capture what I felt in that moment. I shook something loose in my brain with my painting later in the year and convinced myself that it’s better to finish something imperfectly than to leave it on a canvas, half complete, for the better part of a year. Besides the lack of writing, it was actually quite the year for hobbies and non-athletic pursuits.

I cannot ignore that the things I am cursing elsewhere contributed to this boon. The ability to work from home, the absence of racing as the north star of my personal life, and the lack of almost any sort of in-person plans did give me the space to be able to indulge and nurture these interests. However, one would truly think that it also would make daily activity and staying in shape easier. And for a few ages, it did. For some ages, I actively rebelled against the year, giving it my own middle fingers in return, and drinking whiskey and playing video games instead of riding my bike like it would hurt anyone but me to do so. For some ages, I found myself in a different body, a weak lumpy one that felt really mortal with weird aches and pains. I truly have some empathy and perspective. This sucks, y’all. I’ve got a hill to climb to be even a SHADE of myself as an athlete even just a year ago.

And thus, this is where I’m at right now. I’m certain this is one reason for my writing muse to be so utterly and complete blocked right now. For someone who’s used to having awesome stories to tell, I just… haven’t. On this Sunday the third of January, this beautiful day where responsibilities and *life* have not yet unsullied good intentions, I resolve to return here, to write, on a very rigid schedule of “more weeks this year than not”. I may not have interesting stories to tell right now, but telling the uninteresting ones will at least restore a bit of my identity.

Page 2 of 189

Powered by WordPress & Theme by Anders Norén